After another early elimination for the Boston Bruins, many fans are left wondering how a team with such success in the regular season could fail to even win two games in the second round. After digging deeper into things, here are the reasons I found for Boston’s lack of playoff success.
Trade Deadline Failures:
Starting with their moves before the playoffs, it was clear the Bruins did not do all they could to seriously compete for a championship. When they acquired Rick Nash from the Rangers, it was taken by many as a positive signing that could help the team come playoff time. The mix of scoring and veteran leadership was projected to be a big help to this young team. Instead, Nash’s playoff woes followed him to Boston. He was sub-par for most of the playoffs and missed a plethora of scoring chances.
On defense, once again Boston was exposed. It was the Lightning instead who grabbed Ryan McDonagh who was the biggest name on the trade block of defenseman. Boston ended up with Nick Holden, who was a decent depth piece in the regular season, but had no impact on the playoffs. Although GM Don Sweeney has done a good job since taking over, it is fair to question the deadline moves, or lack thereof.
Lack of Depth/Production:
Tying into the trade deadline, the Bruins ran into a serious depth issue as their playoff run came to an end. Despite having arguably the best first line in the league, the second and third lines were questionable at best. The lack of production from Rick Nash, Riley Nash, Danton Heinen and David Backes undoubtedly hurt the Bruins later in the post-season.
Stars playing too many minutes:
The Bruins need to add another good defenseman in the off-season. Zdeno Chara simply played too many minutes, and it eventually caught up to him as he looked slow and tired in the post-season. Even at 40 years old, he is skilled enough to continue to be a good piece, but his minutes will definitely need to be limited.
Of course, goaltending is on this list. As good as Tuukka Rask has been in regular seasons, you have to be a delusional Bruins fan to be confident in him in the playoffs. In arguably the two most important games in the first round (5 and 7) Rask allowed four goals on the first twelve shots he faced. He was pulled in game five, and even Bruins beat writers were calling for him to get pulled in game 7. It was obvious Tuukka was not going to do the Bruins any favors, and if they wanted to win the series, they would need their offense to carry them.
Rask will always be the biggest question mark of the team. History has shown a team with a hot goaltender pushes far into the playoffs. While Rask’s post-season numbers have been good on paper, he has allowed far too many soft goals and has come up short in multiple big games. So now the question becomes do you give up your top-tier goaltender and blow things up, or just hope that one of these years Rask will change things around and carry this team?
Panic by a young head coach:
I’m a big fan of Bruce Cassidy. He has been one of the biggest reasons the Bruins were on the spot they were. However with the Bruins down 2-1 in the series, Cassidy decided to make major changes to his lineup regarding the second, third and fourth line. Changes three of your lines after losing two straight seems like a coach who was panicking about going down in the series. Overall, I believe Cassidy will learn from the experience, but over the final two games, it seemed the chemistry between the lines was an issue.